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Chaitanya Poems of Arun Kolatkar


come off it
said chaitanya to a stone
in stone language

wipe the red paint off your face
I don’t think the colour suits you
I mean what’s wrong
with being just a plain stone
I’ll still bring you flowers
you like the flowers of zendu
don’t you
I like them too

Chaitanya and his followers, the people following, what to say it about? The disciple of Chaitanya too a Chaitanya, so replete with Krishna-prem and bhakti, so full of musicality and bhakti, is the thing. How did the movement start and where did it come to? What did Chaitaya lesson it? How did the people take to? What lesson did he to the people of Khandoba?

Rather than worshipping stones, putting vermilions on, lay them bare and worship you from your heart and He is in you but you cannot see.  But the people understood it not what Chaitanya said it to in a figurative language. God is within your heart, in your heart, where do you search Him? You need not go anywhere. Give your heart to Krishna-bhakti. Go not for excesses. Surrender you, surrender you fully. If giving not time to, wasting over rituals unnecessarily, worship you with your heart, he is in the flowers of reverence, not elsewhere, but in the offering of the flowers of reverence as it will itself turn into flowers. But Bhairava worshippers took to not, the Marathi people and rather than went on telling the folktales of spirit and tantricism. A stone is but a plain stone, nothing more if devotion is not in the heart and bereft of it, He cannot be called. God speaks the language of love and so speak you. God is in lila, the Divine Lila, frolicsome hence enact you the drama of love. If hear you, follow you into the steps of mine, none but I shall bring you the zendu flowers, will you not like? God is in love and try to call Him. God is love and see you it in your heart. Why to be elsewhere? Where to search him? Where do you go searching? He is in prem; He is in bhakti.

A herd of cattle came to not grazing upon, but a herd of legends looked up from its grazing when Chaitanya came into sight. The hills appeared to be silent. Here the imagery flashes upon with Krishnalila contrasted with the realization of the fiercer aspect. Where is Shyama fluting, Ghanashyama? Where the Blue Boy, the Blue Boy of Vrindavan? The story takes to Surdas, Mirabai, Rashkhan, Jayasi, the great medieval poets of the Bhakti Rasa whose classical imagery wed can never discern it, whose devotional poetry is but nectar flowing and whose fee draughts have power to console the thirsty self. Here imagery takes to Gokul, Mathura and Vrindavan. Whose songs is
Gour-Nitai singing? Whose songs so rapt with devotion and love?  The music of love is as such, the attachment of love is as such. How the gopis lost in Krishna-prem, Krishna-viraha? Kolatkar here alludes to those.

But can Martand Bhairava be not called with love? How to tell about this kuladevata, the clan deity of Maharashtra? The poet wants us to learn from the bhakti of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and that can also be a mode of approaching the Divine.


a herd of legends
on the hill slope
looked up from its grazing
when chaitanya came into sight

and the hills remained still
when chaitanya
was passing by
a cowbell tinkled
when he disappeared from view
and the herd of legends
returned to its grazing


sweet as grapes
are the stone of jejuri
said chaitanya.

he popped a stone
in his mouth
and spat out gods

Sweet as grapes are the stones of Jejuri and popping a stone in his mouth, he spat it out gods. It means, when he came, the earth seemed to be stricken with the chords of music. As such was the devotion of his, he seems to have been lost in Krishna consciousness, time seemed to be partaking in that moment of Divine Ecstasy. Chaitanya preached it love and devotion, but the people took to it not.

Who is this Chaitanya? We do not. Why has it been titled so? How did he get remembered of? What was the reason behind? What has Chaitanya to do with as he is on a pilgrimage? Perhaps Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would have definitely paid a visit to Khandoba and would have talked to take bhakti into strict confidence rather than going after rites and rituals. But it is a question, did the people follow him what he lessoned? How the reels of Premlila, Krishnalila? There is something as Kabirism or the Kabirite philosophy, but he talks it about herein. Where is God? Why to search it elsewhere? He is but inside our heart, within and we are searching for Him outside.

Chaitanya series of poems tagged under Jejuri is a re-telling of the folklore with regard to the visit of the Vaishnava saint which he would have demanded from the populace asking them to be closer to one’s own heart and love rather than searching elsewhere which the people of that time would not have.

There is something of transformation he is undergoing, faith is germinating in the godless heart perhaps. But he is not religious. He is a modern man indeed. And it is also true, who is but religious? Where is religion? Where is God? Who is but a godly man? Is religion not in charity? Is it not in service? Is God not in devotion? Is to be righteous and virtuous in life not all?

If Arun Balakrishna Kolatkar is after Chaitanya, Dilip Chitre is after Tukaram and how the music of the two, how to say it? This the poets can only say it about the use of the Bhakti saints and the impact of their devotional poetry. What did the Bhakti Movement relay it to? What was its message when India was reeling under the Dark Age? How were the medieval times and our superstitious practices? How was it Brahminism so full of rituals and practices? And above all, what it corroded the self was the search for the sacrosanct heart where dwelled it God who was but not in any sort of Catholicism.

As search we which way Buddha took to, where did he deliver his sermons and how the congregations were, how the traverses of Hiuen-tsang in search of the master, what did he see when he took to the tedious, risky journey to reach India in search of Buddha and Buddhism? Taking to which routes did he come to and return back to?

We do not know if Chaitanya visited the Khandoba temple at Jejuri or not. Let us enquire the folks. How the travail and travesty of his kirtana jatra? What Chaitanyas are they talking about bhakti and its sources? Is Kolatkar himself a Chaitanya? An atheist, how his journey from atheism to theism, scepticism to materialization of thought and idea? How the crisis raking him? Or a bhakta is he not he is just going on a pilgrimage as the people go without any bhakti in heart or feeling to feel it internally? But who is religious?

Another question, where did Kolatkar write it Jejuri? Where did he jot down, scribble the poems while visiting the place or some during his journey or when he returned to? While atop the temple, how did he undergo the feelings? A godless man, he wanted to be godly, but he could not gather it piety, courage to be called religious and returned to from where he started for just as raked by conflict. But the impressions adding to suspense, doubt and self-examination are not for to be averted. Many a thing is but self-explanatory and we can feel it within through crystal questioning. What it is religion, what it piety? How the faith?

Jejuri is a loose collection of stray poems, all but taking to the Khandoba temple at Jejuri near Pune and the pilgrimage is the source of his poetic matter.

Jejuri is a series of poems, poetic fragments taking a ramshackle full of pilgrims to the temple of Khandoba and the author too with them thinking about the journey so full of piety and faith, also so full of crisis in faith, doubt and skepticism, feeling it within where they are going indeed, really he will be able to see Him.

Jejuri is a poetical series, a cycle of poems taking to Jejuri, Khandoba temple, some sixty kilometres away from Pune in Maharashtra and he in between the journey reminiscing, trying to recollect how the journey was, how his feeling, how was it doubt, suspense raking the self, how the split, how was it the space hidden from it all and we failing to discern it. Hiring the bus, going in the company of, braving the odds of the journey, sharing the seat with the old man to reach the place keeping faith and doubt at bay for some time, confronting the old woman at the temple, raked by doubt and suspense, he tries to tell the tale in a modern version applying the modernist and the post-modernist approaches. Take you faith, but not so much. Believe you, but not blindly. Leave you something to reason and reasoning. Religion is not religion if we come to not grappling with mind and matter and what they say it cannot be accepted. Try to contradict you. This is the idea the poem gives. Try to be modern. Is faith all? Or is life more important?

The poems as sections talk about the turns and twists of thought and idea and the poetic moods at variance with each other.

Jejuri is a journey of the self, and he seems to be under the spiritual crisis.

The poems seem to be under the shadow of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the poet is trying to remember the impact of the Bhakti Movement.

We do not know it if Kolatkar wrote all that while he was at Jejuri or reminisced it otherwise to tag to the collection to be called Jejuri named after the Khandoba temple of Jejuri near Pune. The poems reveal it his love for Vaishnavism and the Vaishnavite sects and traditions. We are also not sure of what did he see at Khandoba. Could eh see his kuladevata or not? Or he took to the lessons and teachings which Chaitanya delivered them when on his visit to the shrine asking the people to be devotional from their within.


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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